It may not exactly be Godfather I and II, but Bellator is putting on an Italian double-feature that should keep fans on the edge of their seats as they head to Milan for two MMA events on the same day in the same arena.
Bellator 230 is headlined by a light-heavyweight showdown between former middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho and surging Russian prospect-turned-contender Vadim Nemkov. It is Carvalho’s debut at 205 pounds after he dropped two straight fights at 185 and struggled to get down to the 190-pound catchweight limit for his most recent fight with Chidi Njokuani. Nemkov is undefeated through three fights in the Bellator cage and looks to add another former champion to his resume after picking up consecutive wins over former light heavyweight titleholders Liam McGeary and Phil Davis.
The Bellator Milan portion of the festivities features Dutch kickboxing legend Melvin Manhoef in a main event against Yannick “The Black Beast” Bahati. Manhoef has fought sparingly since entering his 40s and now, at 43 years old, he is looking to string together back-to-back wins for the first time since 2014. Bahati recently ended a three-fight skid in May with a submission win at Bellator Birmingham over Amir Dadovic.
Bellator Milan will air live at 5 p.m. ET on Oct. 12 via the Bellator mobile app following the promotion’s kickboxing event. Bellator 230 will broadcast on tape delay at 9 p.m. ET on the Paramount Network and DAZN streaming service. All events will be held at The Allianz Cloud — formerly known as Palazzetto Lido Sport — in Milan, Italy.
Vadim Nemkov’s Bellator run has been an eye-opening campaign that includes victories over Philipe Lins, Liam McGeary and Phil Davis. Will he add a win over Rafael Carvalho on Saturday?
Yes. Nemkov has not only gone 3-0 since joining Bellator, but he is on a five-fight winning streak and has turned into a truly elite light heavyweight. He battered McGeary with leg kicks for 14 minutes until the former champion couldn’t withstand anymore and the fight was halted by referee Dan Miragliotta. Nemkov was then able to pull out a victory over another former champion in Davis as a sizable underdog in a closely contested fight where Nemkov showed real grit and determination in the third round. He fought off not one, but two kimura attempts from Davis to pick up the biggest win of his career. The 27-year-old Russian is becoming a real threat at light heavyweight, and he’s just entering his athletic prime.
Carvalho is certainly no slouch, but the former middleweight champ has gone 1-2 over his last three fights. The 33-year-old Brazilian -struggled to make the middleweight limit recently, too. The move to light heavyweight will prove to be the right decision over time, but he is running into a buzzsaw in his 205-pound debut when he squares off against Nemkov.
Melvin Manhoef headlines the Bellator European Series portion of the show. The knockout artist takes on Yannick Bahati. Can we expect a highlight-reel win out of the 43-year-old?
Unfortunately, no. Manhoef has one of the longest and greatest highlight reels in all of combat sports, but that reel hasn’t had any new footage since 2015, when Manhoef unleashed a left hand that left Hisaki Kato asking referee-turned-commentator John McCarthy what had just happened. It certainly isn’t impossible that Manhoef could close the show in dramatic fashion with a knockout win over Bahati, but given the age and recent history of the Suriname-born Dutch kickboxing legend, it’d be hard to call a knockout win the likely outcome.
Bahati isn’t a stranger to being on the wrong end of a knockout, though. He has dropped two of his last three contests by knockout or TKO. He came back from two consecutive losses with a submission win over Amir Dadovic in his Bellator debut. Taking this fight to the mat is his best path to victory, but even a 43-year-old Manhoef will be no picnic for Bahati as the Democatic Republic of Congo native tries to close the distance. The threat of a knockout will keep Bahati at bay, turning this fight into a slow-paced chess match that ends in a second straight decision victory for Manhoef.
Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?
What even counts as a sleeper fight on this double event?
The co-headliner at Bellator Milan between Stefano Paterno and Ashley Reece should be a fun fight that isn’t getting as much attention as it deserves. Paterno is 12-3-1. The 24-year-old will have his hometown crowd in Milan behind him against Reece, who is just on the north side of 30. Reece’s lone loss came to Cage Warriors standout and SBG South Shields fighter Adam Proctor. Both of these guys are finishers, and this fight should produce major fireworks leading into the main event of the Bellator Milan portion of the show.
Bellator 230 (Paramount Network/DAZN, 9 p.m. ET)
LHW: Rafael Carvalho vs. Vadim Nemkov
HW: Domingos Barros vs. Kirill Sidelnikov
Catchweight (243 pounds): Dragos Zubco vs. Hesdy Gerges
WW: Andrea Fusi vs. Walter Pugliesi
Bellator Milan (Bellator app, 5 p.m. ET)
LHW: Melvin Manhoef vs. Yannick Bahati
WW: Stefano Paterno vs. Ashley Reece
LHW: Alessio Sakara vs. Canaan Grigsby
LW: Kane Mousah vs. Daniele Scatizzi
Preliminary Card (Bellator app, 4 p.m. ET)
LW: Nicolo Solli vs. Dan Cassell
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